DUI, driving under the influence, is a common charge and one that must be taken very seriously. In Florida, the legal limit is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). This limit is for adults of legal drinking age – over the age of 21. But what about young drivers who are stopped for DUI? There are special rules that apply to drivers under the age of 21 including a zero tolerance law.

Zero Tolerance

While drivers over age 21 must not have an alcohol level of more than 0.08%, younger drivers must not be drinking at all. While those under the age of 21 should not be drinking, the standard of impairment that is applied regarding alcohol is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. Anyone, even those under age 21, are not impaired if the BAC is lower than 0.05%. However, impairment may also include other factors. Those who have taken drugs (either illegal or prescription) could possibly be considered impaired.


Determining impairment is done through several methods including:

  • Visual
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Breathalyzer tests
  • Blood tests

When the police officer approaches and speaks to the driver he will immediately begin to analyze the situation. The officer may look for signs of impairment such as the smell of alcohol, watery or bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech. Additionally, the officer will watch to see if the driver’s actions are slow and will observe whether the driver is able to respond properly to verbal commands.

Next, the officer may ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. You are likely familiar with these types of tests that may include walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, and standing on one leg. These tests are designed to test coordination and mental acuteness, which could be compromised if the driver is impaired.

Finally, the officer may request the driver take a breathalyzer or blood test. Under Florida law, drivers are required to submit to these tests if asked to take them by a member of law enforcement. Refusing to submit to the test will result in separate charges that are punishable with a year of driver’s license suspension. Also, the fact that the driver refused to take the test will be used in the original DUI case.

Defending DUI Charges

If you have been charged with DUI it is imperative that you seek immediate help from an experienced DUI attorney. Your lawyer will review the situation including the original traffic stop that resulted in the DUI charges. It may be possible to have the charges reduced or dropped, depending on the specific circumstances as well as the evidence. Your lawyer will represent you throughout the case from your arraignment, through hearings, and at the final hearing, where your case will be decided. Seek help from an attorney who focuses on DUI cases as this will provide you with the best possible outcome.